Nikon D3100 Review: An Entry Level DSLR With Some Advanced Features

nikon d3100 photo

The D3100 is a portable, beginner-friendly DSLR that can help you take amazing high definition images and videos. With a 14.2 megapixel CMOS sensor, support for 1080p video, and an integrated Guide mode that provides suggestions on how to take the best shots, the D3100 packs a surprising number of handy features in an entry-level package.

The Good

  • Lightweight DX-format sensor 14.2 megapixel still photos
  • Powerful new Expeed 2 processor improves face detection, noise reduction, and distortion correction
  • Very good light sensitivity from ISO 100-3200 and expandable to 12800
  • Capable of taking 24fps 1080p video

The Bad

  • Limited compatibility with other Nikon lenses
  • Active Focus suffers in Live View and Movie Shooting modes

The Verdict

The D3100 is a great entry-level DSLR. Featuring innovative ideas such as continuous autofocus for 1080p video and an intuitive Guide mode, the D3100 is only hampered by its low image quality and poor focusing in certain modes. The D3100 is a DSLR for new photographers who want a lightweight DSLR that will help them take awesome shots.

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Tech Specs

Image Quality

14.2 MP, max 1080p @ 24fps

Audio Quality

Above average

Battery Life

550 photos (approx)

Wifi and Bluetooth

Not available

Design and Hardware

Nikon d3100

The D3100 is on the lighter side of DSLRs, measuring 4.9 x 3.8 x 2.9 inches and weighing in at only 16 ounces. The camera features a large 3" LCD screen with a straightforward menu. The controls on the D3100 are intuitive and include a Guide mode which provides shooting tips and instructions.

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Image and Video Quality

The D3100's 14.2 megapixel sensor doesn't provide the sharpest images, but it has fantastic low light performance and a good noise threshold. The D3100 takes full 1080p video at 24 frames per second (fps), with a slightly higher 30fps for 720p video. The D3100 is also the first DSLR to continuously autofocus while recording video.

Battery Life and Performance

What the D3100 lacks in quality it makes up for in speed. The camera turns on and takes shots in 1.35 seconds and can deliver 3fps of continuous shooting. While it can autofocus in 2.41 seconds, this speed suffers in Live View and Movie Mode.

The D3100 has a built-in stereo microphone that picks up external noise well. Unfortunately this includes the lens, which whirs loudly whenever the camera refocuses. The camera works with a limited number of Nikon lenses, so you'll need to check Nikon's compatibility chart before trying to attach one to your D3100.


The D3100 is a decent beginner's DSLR, offering a few novice-friendly features at a fairly low price point. Professionals might be put off by its Guide mode, low image sharpness, and the availability of more powerful DSLRs from manufacturers such as Sony.

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